Make Ahead

Grandma Ruth's Icebox Sugar Cookies

March 29, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 15-20 cookies
Author Notes

My mother's mother, Ruth Hendricks Schoenberger made these with my mother when she was a child and my mother in turn made them with myself and my siblings. My grandmother was a force to be reckoned with in her baking skills (her mother was a legendary baker in her time I am told), thinking nothing of whipping up pie crusts, yeast rolls, and these sugar cookies on a daily basis for almost 7 decades. She married late for back then (in 1936 at the age of 26) as she awaited my grandfather (in Cincinnati, OH) who traveled around to other states to find work during the Depression. I recall her telling me that she would visit him and always bring something she baked with her. I don't know if she brought these but I'd like to think so. I imagine her mixing these up and putting them in her icebox to chill then slicing and baking them before taking the train to visit her beloved. Her actual recipe calls for the cookies to be rolled out (she called them Christmas Cutouts on her recipe card) but I do not have the counter/table space so icebox cookies seemed like a good idea to go along with my fantasy of her baking them in that manner. Her recipe also calls for cake flour (which I did not have) so I made my own combining 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour with 2 tblsp. cornstarch to equal 1 c. cake flour (I doubled it to have enough for these cookies. You can find this on —testkitchenette

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons milk/cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour or white whole wheat flour and cornstarch mixture described above.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and prepare baking sheet with parchment paper/silicone liner.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Mix the egg, milk or cream, vanilla, and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a handheld mixer or upright one, cream the butter and add the sugar gradually. Add the egg, milk/cream, vanilla, and lemon mixture. Add the flour mixture and combine thoroughly. Form into a log on parchment paper.
  4. Chill overnight. Slice with knife or dental floss (no wax or mint please) into scant 1/2" slices. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool if you can wait that long to taste them.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • testkitchenette
  • Furey and the Feast
    Furey and the Feast
  • mrslarkin
  • monkeymom
  • drbabs

8 Reviews

testkitchenette April 2, 2010
Thank you everyone for your comments. Many of you have shared family memories within recipes posted here. I truly believe that love can be transcended through cooking. I was very fortunate to have my grandmother present throughout my life and even luckier that she shared her stories with myself and the rest of my family. I know she'd get a kick out of seeing some of her recipes on the web and really think she'd like this site...she never got into using the computer which is OK considering she was born in 1910.
Furey A. April 1, 2010
I agree with the other commenters, what a lovely story. I can't imagine how much harder life was during the Depression, but the baked goods she brought probably were little rays of sunshine.
mrslarkin March 30, 2010
Such a beautiful story!!! Thank you for sharing it, TK!
monkeymom March 30, 2010
Thanks for sharing this recipe and your story about it. I also treasure how recipes and cooking can tie us so closely with our loved ones...I'm sure your grandmother would be very proud that you remember her in this way!
testkitchenette March 30, 2010
Thank you for your kind words monkeymom! Cooking with her and now with her recipe box is a gift (an inheritance that is priceless!) I love books that chronicle a person's relationships with family and food....Amanda's Cooking for Mr. Latte and Nani Power's Feed the Hungry are two favorites. A blog with those recipes is on the back burner....I need to share the recipes with the other 10 grandchildren!
testkitchenette March 29, 2010
Thank you drbabs, she was a special person (as all our grandmothers were/are) and I feel so blessed that I knew her into my 30's (she died a few years ago). Remembering her with her recipes brings back so many memories...
drbabs March 29, 2010
I know what you mean. I was blessed to have my Granny until 2 years ago--she was 97 --and she was one of the most important people in my life--especially when I was young. I was her first grandchild and I always felt that I was the most special person in the world when i was with her.
drbabs March 29, 2010
love the story!